Friday the 13th! by @linkstoenglish - Mark Venning · Profesor de inglés - Madrid


Mark Venning · Profesor de inglés


Friday the 13th!

Today is Friday the 13th, considered by the English speaking-world to be the unluckiest day of the year. 
Of course in Spain, it is not Friday but Tuesday the 13th which is considered to be unlucky. Not a lot of people know this, but it was a Tuesday the 13th that the city of Constantinople (now Istanbul) capitulated not once but TWICE: firstly to the Fourth Crusade in April 1204, and then to the Ottoman Empire in 1453.

Needless to say it is not only Spaniards that consider this day unlucky, but Greeks as well. 

Another reason that thirteen is considered to be an unlucky number in so many countries comes from The Last Supper, when Jesus gathered this 12 disciples together for what turned out to be their final meal together. 12 apostles + Jesus himself = 13. As Jesus was betrayed by the apostle Judas and was subsequently captured by the Romans and crucified, it was subsequently considered unluckiy in many Christian countries to have thirteen people together.

However. there are many other theories about why thirteen is considered unlucky, varying from it being the standard number of menstrual cycles over a year (some women used to refer to their menstrual period as "the curse"!) to the traditional number of steps to the gallows at a hanging!

There is even a word for the fear of the number thirteen: triskaidekaphobia. It even has its own website!

Friday - while being many people's favourite day of the week these days - becomes unlucky when coupled with the number 13 again thanks to the Last Supper and Jesus' crucifixion.. the Bible states that the son of god was flogged, forced to carry his own cross and then was nailed to it and left to die. On the day we celebrate as Good Friday! Some believe the name Good Friday is a corruption of "God's Friday" - or that the word "good" actually meant "holy" - as the death of Jesus Christ hardly seems something Christians would consider good!

In Italy however, while Friday is still considered an unlucky day, it is the SEVENTEENTH - not the thirteenth - which is deemed unlucky.

One reason for this superstition is that the number seventeen in Roman Numerals was written XVII which is an anagram of VIXI - the Latin for "I have lived", suggesting a recent death! Additionally the great Biblical flood - you know, with Noah and the ark and the animals who went in two by two - was also said to have started on the 17th of February.

Of course all this talk of bad luck, whether on Friday, Tuesday, the 13th or the 17th naturally leads us to talk of superstition. Even in our relatively secular and theoretically rational society there are still people who share a number of popular superstitions, such as not walking under ladders, trying not to spill salt and not opening an umbrella while still indoors.

Many of these superstitions are common to a number of countries while others differ. Many European countries consider black cats to be a symbol of bad luck, but in England they are thought to bring good fortune. It's no coincidence that many black pet cats in England are named "lucky"!

But whatever you do this Friday the 13th, just look out for gentlemen named Jason who wear white hockey masks!
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